Sunday, October 16, 2011

Dentistry Whistleblower DEAD

Remember last year when it was revealed a VA clinic in Ohio was using less than sterile conditions.  There was an uproar!

Well, the dental lab technician who blew the whistle on died Saturday in a one car accident.

By Thomas Gnau, Staff Writer Updated 10:37 AM Sunday, October 16, 2011

BEAVERCREEK — A dental lab technician who helped call attention to poor infection-control practices at the Dayton VA Medical Center last year was killed in a one-car accident in Beavercreek Saturday morning.

Wallace “Ray” Perdue of Fairborn was killed after the car he was driving left the road and struck a tree in the 2200 block of Kemp Road, just west of Beaver Valley Road, at 11:54 a.m. Saturday, according to Beavercreek police. He was 45. Police said he died at the scene.

His wife, Sherry Perdue, was also in the car. She was examined at Miami Valley Hospital after the crash, then discharged on Saturday, a hospital spokesperson said.

The Perdues, along with a third whistle-blower, told VA inspectors in the summer of 2010 about dentist Dr. Dwight Pemberton’s failure to sterilize instruments and change latex gloves between seeing patients.

In the aftermath of the Perdues’ allegations coming to light, the VA closed its Dayton dental clinic for three weeks and offered testing for hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV to 535 former patients of Pemberton’s.

By April 2011, the VA confirmed two patients had hepatitis B who had not been previously diagnosed with the illness. So far, at least three former Pemberton patients tested positive for some form of hepatitis.

Pemberton, 81, retired in February 2011 and denied allegations that he failed to follow proper protocols.

The Perdues has worked at the dental clinic since 2000. The couple told the Dayton Daily News in April 2011 that their work environment deteriorated in 2008 when they were told the VA might prohibit married couples from working together.

Shortly after they reported Pemberton’s practices, the VA initiated an investigation of the Perdues’ workplace conduct. In October 2010, the couple was reassigned — he to Richmond, Ind., she elsewhere on the Dayton VA campus. The VA claimed that dental clinic employees had alleged that the Perdues had created a hostile work environment, but the Perdues said the reason for the reassignments was retaliation.

In November 2010, the Perdues resigned.

A Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association task force — formed in the aftermath of the scandal — recommended testing more than 535 former patients of Pemberton’s, noting that more than 3,200 patients has been seen and treated by Pemberton in the past two decades. The task force also recommended testing immediate relatives of deceased former Pemberton patients.

“It’s in the hundreds and we’re talking in the thousands,” Bucklew said last month. “It’s the right thing to do.”

Bucklew said Saturday the Perdues will have a “very long-term impact.”

“Because of the actions that they have done, we’ve had congressional hearings, we’ve had administrative hearings, we’ve had disciplinary actions at the VA,” Bucklew said.

“That was set in motion based on what Wallace and Sherry did,” he added. “It’s a proud legacy, but it’s a sad chapter for the VA.”